Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Mi Car-o es Blanco

When the temperatures here dipped to -8 and our days were spent thinking of creative ways to thaw pipes, my brain took an early vacation to Baja.  I had a mental Cabo Advent Calendar, and each day I opened up a little flap to reveal either a Pacifico or a shrimp taco.  So when I sat in my chonies on our patio in Cabo, with Regina on one side and a michelada on the other, I felt, for the first time in a long time, completely thawed.  I thought I may never leave.

We took our annual trip to Mexico this Christmas and the kids, of course, had a blast.  We spent a week in Cabo and three days in Todo Santos, and most of our time was spent on pristine beaches, or at the pool, which overlooked the pristine beach, or eating shrimp tacos, near some lousy pristine beach.  Give Dylan and Grady a set of arm floaties and a beach bucket and they practically babysit themselves.  At least that's what I told all the glaring parents.  Grady was perfectly content building, then demolishing, sand castles all day long.  We'd slather on a layer of sunblock and turn them loose.  Dylan has a Rainman-esq affinity for numbers, and between playing in the waves and building sand-cities, I'm pretty sure she got an accurate count on the grains of sand on each and every stretch of beach we visited.

If Dylan wasn't counting things, like pom-pom trees (her name for palm trees), or buzzards, or Mexicans, then she was asking about numbers.  A typical conversation went like this: "Dylan, look!  I just saw a whale with a kitten on its back."  "What's the number 7-0-0-1?"  If her numbers infatuation keeps up, I'm teaching her to count cards.  Our non-sequiter conversations won't be half as frustrating if we're stacking chips in Vegas.

Our only misadventures came at my expense.  One day we decided to drive to downtown Cabo and walk around.  After searching for parking, I found a great spot in front of a coffee shop.  Sure, the curb was painted red, but the entire block was lined with parked cars.   I concluded that a red curb means, "Come on over, whitey, park here."  When we returned from our stroll, we stopped in for a coffee.  Just as we were served we watched two traffic cops pull up on their motorcycles.  Since I'm 1-0 in getting out of traffic tickets in Mexico, Regina sent me out to investigate.  I stood near them in an awkward silence as they eyeballed my rental.  They'd look up at me and glare, then resume writing.  Finally, I thought I'd better throw down some espanol.  "Uh, mi car-o," I said confidently, "es un problemo?"  "Ticket," they replied.  Crap.  Luckily, Regina sensed my dilemma and figured I was probably going to say something accidentally offensive (like "car-o") and came to the rescue.  No ticket, and I'm 2-0 on blundering my way out of traffic fines in Mexico!

The second flub came in Todo Santos at a seafood restaurant.  I thought I'd go rogue and not order shrimp tacos.  I went, for no reason, with camerones aguachili.  It translates to "translucent-grey raw shrimp, with little or no seasoning save lime."  Regina laughed when it came to our table, mostly because of the pile of raw shrimp on my plate.  I'd also ordered shrimp ceviche, so doubling up raised a few flags in my brain.  Unfortunately, the cook was standing near our table, and I'm a people-pleaser, so I ate it all.  You ever get sick from too much Jose Cuervo, then try a shot of it the next day?  That clench in your gut?  That's how I felt the entire meal.

The weather, when we returned, was above 0, and the kids had a few days to acclimate before school started up again.  My only hint of Mexico, a red belly, is slowly turning back to raw-fish white.  Regina, somehow, will stay beautifully tanned until April, just in time to start catching sunshine here.  After bringing home a little bit of Baja in their bellies (Dylan announced, loudly, in an In-N-Out in Redding that she had diarrhea), the kids are back to their old routines.  And we've already started planning our next Baja adventure.